March 01, 2021

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Mobile Phones in North Korea: Understanding The Boom

Mobile phones in North Korea aren't just for the 'elites'. From business people to family homes in the provinces, more and more people are slowly gaining access to cellular communication.

Imagine making a call to a friend in downtown Pyongyang from just across the border in Seoul. That reality might be a way off yet, but if things did mellow between the two nations, at least they'd both be up to speed when it comes to the latest phone technology to aid their communication. Not so long ago, even having a landline phone at home in North Korea was considered a luxury, but in recent years a mobile phone boom has taken off at a pace that is as speedy as it is surprising.

Anyone trying to make sense of the rapid spread of cellular telephony in North Korea will have difficulty finding anything official on the topic post-2011. That’s because Orascom, the Egyptian firm responsible for the provision of North Korea’s cell service, printed its last shareholder report on the DPRK one year ago.